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KLARA AND THE SUN - KAZUO ISHIGURO, Part Two - 02 (2)

Part Two - 02 (2)

‘It's called conversation,' said the long-armed girl.

‘Why doesn't he eat his chocolate?' Missy said. ‘He's just holding it.'

Rick turned to her, then held out the chocolate still in its wrapping. ‘Here. Perhaps you'd care for it yourself.'

Missy laughed but backed away.

‘Look,' said the long-armed girl. ‘This is like a friendly encounter, okay?'

Rick glanced quickly at Josie, who was staring at him, her eyes filling with anger. The next second he'd turned again to the guest girls.

‘Friendly. Of course. I wonder if it would please you all to hear I like bug movies.'

‘Bug movies?' someone else said. ‘Is that like a genre?'

‘Don't taunt him,' said the long-armed girl. ‘Be nice. He's doing okay.'

A voice said: ‘Yeah, he's doing okay,' and several people giggled. As Rick turned quickly towards them, Josie reached forward and took the chocolate from him.

‘Hey, everyone,' Josie called out. ‘I want you all to meet Klara. This here's Klara!'

She was signaling to me to come closer, and as I did so all the eyes turned my way. Rick too looked at me, but only for a second, then he walked off into a small clearing beside the corner desk. No one seemed to pay him further attention because they were now looking at me. Even the long-armed girl had lost interest in Rick and was staring at me.

‘Now that's a smart-looking AF,' she said. She leaned towards Josie in a confidential manner, and I thought she was going to say something further about me, but what she said was:

‘See Danny over there? First thing he comes in, he announces how he got detained by the police. No greeting, nothing. When we told him he had to greet correctly first, he still doesn't get it. Just keeps boasting about him and the police.'

‘Wow.' Josie looked to the boys on the modular sofa. ‘So he thinks it's smart to be a criminal?'

The long-armed girl laughed, and Josie became part of a shape the five girls made together.

‘Then his brother over there gives it away. Too much beer, that's all it was.'

‘Shush. He knows we're talking about him,' someone said.

‘So much the better. The cops found him passed out on a bench and took him home. And he's telling us like he was arrested or something.'

‘No greeting, nothing.'

‘Hey, I didn't hear you give Josie a greeting just now, Missy. So you're just as bad as Danny.'

‘I did. I said hello to Josie.'

‘Josie? Did you hear my sister greet you when you came in?'

Missy became visibly upset. ‘I did say hello. It's just that Josie didn't hear me.'

‘Hey, Josie!' The boy called Danny – the one on the sofa with his leg extended over the cushions – was calling from the rear of the room. ‘Hey, Josie, that your new AF? Tell her to come over here.'

‘Go on, Klara,' Josie said. ‘Go say hello to those boys.'

I didn't move at once, partly because I'd been surprised by Josie's voice. It was like the one she sometimes used when talking to Melania Housekeeper, but not like any voice she'd used before to me.

‘What's up with her?' Danny got up off the sofa. ‘Doesn't she take commands?'

Josie was giving me a stern look, so I began to make my way towards the boys on the sofa. But Danny, who was taller than anyone else in the room, came swiftly through the other guests and, before I was even halfway to the sofa, grasped me by both elbows, so I could no longer move freely. He looked me up and down, then said:

‘So. Settling in?'

‘Yes. Thank you.'

One of the other boys from the sofa at the rear shouted: ‘Hey! She speaks! Rejoice!'

‘Shut up, Scrub,' Danny shouted back. Then he asked me: ‘So what do they call you again?'

‘Her name's Klara,' Josie said from behind me. ‘Danny, let go of her. She doesn't like being held that way.'

‘Hey, Danny,' Scrub shouted again. ‘Throw her over here.'

‘You want to see her,' Danny said, ‘get up off that sofa and come over here.'

‘Just throw her over. Let's test her coordination.'

‘She ain't your AF, Scrub.' Danny's hands were still tight around my elbows. ‘You need to ask Josie about something like that.'

‘Hey, Josie,' Scrub called. ‘It's okay, right? My B3, you can swing her right through the air, lands on her feet every time. Come on, Danny. Throw her over onto the sofa. She won't get damaged.'

‘So uncouth,' the long-armed girl said quietly, and several girls, Josie included, giggled.

‘My B3,' Scrub continued, ‘she'll somersault and land clean on her feet. Back straight, perfect. So let's see what this one can do.'

‘You're not a B3, right?' Danny asked.

I didn't reply, but Josie behind me said: ‘No, but she's the best.'

‘Yeah? So can she do what Scrub says?'

‘I have a B3 now,' a girl's voice said. ‘You'll see him next meeting.'

Then another voice asked: ‘Why didn't you get a B3, Josie?'

‘Because…I liked this one.' Josie said this uncertainly, but then the strength returned to her voice. ‘There's nothing any B3 can do Klara can't.'

There was movement behind me, and then the long-armed girl was standing beside Danny. He seemed to feel both excitement and fear to be near her, and let go of my elbows. But now the long-armed girl gripped my left wrist, though not nearly as roughly as Danny had been holding me.

‘Hello, Klara,' she said, and looked me over carefully again. ‘Now. Let's see. Klara, will you please sing for me the harmonic minor scale?'

I wasn't sure how Josie wished me to respond so I waited for her to speak. But she remained silent.

‘Oh? You don't sing?'

‘Come on,' the boy called Scrub called out. ‘Throw her over. If she can't coordinate, I'll just catch her.'

‘Not saying much.' The long-armed girl came closer and stared at my eyes. ‘Maybe she's low on solar.'

‘There's nothing wrong with her.' Josie said this so quietly, it was possible I was the only one to hear.

‘Klara,' the long-armed girl said. ‘Give me a greeting.'

I remained silent, waiting for Josie to speak again.

‘No? Nothing?'

‘Hey, Josie,' a voice said behind me. ‘You could have got a B3, right? So why didn't you?'

Josie laughed and said: ‘Now I'm starting to think I should have.'

This brought other laughs, then a new voice said: ‘B3s are so amazing.'

‘Come on, Klara,' the long-armed girl said. ‘A little greeting at least.'

I'd by now fixed a pleasant expression on my face and was gazing past her, much as Manager had trained us to do in the store in such situations.

‘An AF who refuses to greet. Josie, will you tell Klara to say something to us?'

‘Throw her over here. That'll bring her to life.'

‘Klara's got a great memory,' Josie said behind me. ‘As good as any AF anywhere.'

‘Oh really?' said the long-armed girl.

‘And not just her memory. She notices things no one else does and stores them away.'

‘Okay.' The long-armed girl kept holding my wrist. ‘Okay, Klara. Here's what to do. Without turning to look. Tell me what my sister's wearing.'

I continued to stare beyond the long-armed girl at the bricks on the wall.

‘Seems to have frozen. But she's cute, I'll give you that.'

‘Ask her again,' Josie said. ‘Go on, Marsha. Ask again.'

‘Okay. Now, Klara, I know you can do it. Tell me what Missy's wearing.'

‘I'm sorry,' I said, still looking past her.

‘You're sorry?' Then the long-armed girl said to the room, ‘What's that mean?' and people laughed. Then she glared at me and asked: ‘What do you mean, Klara? What do you mean, you're sorry?'

‘I'm sorry I'm unable to help.'

‘She's not going to help.' The long-armed girl's look softened and at last she released my wrist. ‘Okay, Klara. You can turn and look. Take a look at what Missy's wearing.'

Though it might look impolite, I didn't turn. Because if I did so, I'd not only see Missy – I knew of course what she was wearing down to her purple wristband and tiny bear pendant – but also Josie, and then we would have to exchange looks with each other.

‘I give up,' the long-armed girl said.

‘Okay,' Danny said. ‘Then we'll do Scrub's test. Just to please him. Phil, come here and help me swing her. Scrub, stay where you are, get ready to catch. This is okay with you, Josie?'

Behind me, Josie remained silent, but a girl's voice said: ‘Throwing AFs across the room. That's evil.'

‘What's evil about it? They're designed to deal with it.'

‘That's not the point,' the girl's voice said. ‘It's just nasty.'

‘You're being soft,' Danny said. ‘Phil, take her arms. I'll get the legs.'

‘What's that you have there in your pocket?' It was Rick who'd spoken and the room went silent.

‘What d'you say, friend?'

Rick moved through the guests, stopping a little to my right. He showed no fear as he pointed at the breast pocket of Danny's shirt. I'd noticed the object earlier – a soft toy dog small enough for the pocket. I'd seen children of seven and eight carrying such toys in their pockets when they'd come into the store.

As everyone shifted positions to see what Rick was pointing at, Danny raised both hands to cover his pocket.

‘A pet object, I'd say,' Rick said.

‘It's not a pet object,' Danny said.

‘I'd say it's your pet object. To help you feel calmer at gatherings like this one.'

‘What's this bullshit? Who asked you anything?'

‘If it's really nothing so special, perhaps you wouldn't mind showing it to me.' Rick held out his hand. ‘Don't worry. I'll take good care of it.'

‘Whether it's anything special or not, it's none of your business.'

‘Do please let me borrow it. Just for a minute.'

‘It's nothing to me, but I wouldn't hand it over to you.'

‘No? Not even a little peek?'

‘I'd never lend you anything. Why would I? You shouldn't even be here.'

Rick was still holding out his hand, and the room remained silent.

‘It couldn't be you're perhaps a little soft yourself, Danny?' Rick said. ‘At least, when it comes to cute little things for the pocket.'

‘That's enough! You leave Danny be!'

The voice belonged to an adult, and the young people around me shrank back as the woman came striding into the room. ‘And Danny's right,' she said. ‘You shouldn't be here at all.'

Then the Mother came hurrying in after her, and I saw other adults looking through the doorway into the Open Plan.

‘Come on, Sara,' the Mother was saying. ‘We don't interfere, remember?'

The Mother put an arm around the Sara woman, who continued to glare at Rick.

‘Come on, Sara. Play by the rules. It's for the kids to sort out.'

Sara continued to look angry, but allowed herself to be led away out of the room and into the murmur of adult voices in the hall. One of the voices said: ‘It's the only way they'll learn,' and then the adult voices receded, and there was silence in the Open Plan.

Danny was perhaps even more embarrassed about his adult's interference than he'd been about the small toy. He continued to cover his breast pocket with both hands as he returned to the sofa, his now slightly hunched back turned to the room.

‘Okay,' the long-armed girl said brightly. ‘How about we go outside for a while? It's turned nice out there. Look!'

A chorus of voices shouted approval, and I heard Josie's among them saying, ‘Great idea. Let's do it!'

The children filed out, led by Josie and the long-armed girl. Danny and Scrub left with them, and then there was only Rick and myself in the Open Plan.



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Part Two - 02 (2)

‘It's called conversation,' said the long-armed girl. 'Se llama conversación,' dijo la chica de brazos largos.

‘Why doesn't he eat his chocolate?' Missy said. '¿Por qué no come su chocolate?' dijo Missy. ‘He's just holding it.' Solo lo está sosteniendo.

Rick turned to her, then held out the chocolate still in its wrapping. Rick se volvió hacia ella y luego le tendió el chocolate todavía en su envoltorio. ‘Here. 'Aquí. Perhaps you'd care for it yourself.' Quizá lo cuide usted mismo.

Missy laughed but backed away. Missy se rió pero retrocedió.

‘Look,' said the long-armed girl. 'Mira', dijo la chica de brazos largos. ‘This is like a friendly encounter, okay?' 'Esto es como un encuentro amistoso, ¿de acuerdo?'

Rick glanced quickly at Josie, who was staring at him, her eyes filling with anger. Rick miró rápidamente a Josie, que lo miraba con los ojos llenos de ira. The next second he'd turned again to the guest girls. Al segundo siguiente se volvió de nuevo hacia las chicas invitadas.

‘Friendly. 'Amigable. Of course. Por supuesto. I wonder if it would please you all to hear I like bug movies.' Me pregunto si les complacería saber que me gustan las películas de bichos.

‘Bug movies?' someone else said. ¿Películas de bichos? dijo alguien más. ‘Is that like a genre?' '¿Es eso como un género?'

‘Don't taunt him,' said the long-armed girl. —No te burles de él —dijo la chica de brazos largos—. ‘Be nice. 'Se bueno. He's doing okay.' Está bien.

A voice said: ‘Yeah, he's doing okay,' and several people giggled. Una voz dijo: 'Sí, está bien', y varias personas se rieron. As Rick turned quickly towards them, Josie reached forward and took the chocolate from him. Cuando Rick se volvió rápidamente hacia ellos, Josie se inclinó y le quitó el chocolate.

‘Hey, everyone,' Josie called out. —Hola a todos —gritó Josie. ‘I want you all to meet Klara. Quiero que todos conozcan a Klara. This here's Klara!' ¡Esta de aquí es Klara!

She was signaling to me to come closer, and as I did so all the eyes turned my way. Me estaba haciendo señas para que me acercara y, al hacerlo, todos los ojos se volvieron hacia mí. Rick too looked at me, but only for a second, then he walked off into a small clearing beside the corner desk. Rick también me miró, pero solo por un segundo, luego caminó hacia un pequeño claro al lado del escritorio de la esquina. No one seemed to pay him further attention because they were now looking at me. Nadie pareció prestarle más atención porque ahora me miraban a mí. Even the long-armed girl had lost interest in Rick and was staring at me. Incluso la chica de brazos largos había perdido interés en Rick y me miraba fijamente.

‘Now that's a smart-looking AF,' she said. "Ahora que es un AF de aspecto inteligente", dijo. She leaned towards Josie in a confidential manner, and I thought she was going to say something further about me, but what she said was: Se inclinó hacia Josie de manera confidencial, y pensé que iba a decir algo más sobre mí, pero lo que dijo fue:

‘See Danny over there? ¿Ves a Danny allí? First thing he comes in, he announces how he got detained by the police. Lo primero que entra, anuncia cómo fue detenido por la policía. No greeting, nothing. Ningún saludo, nada. When we told him he had to greet correctly first, he still doesn't get it. Cuando le dijimos que primero tenía que saludar correctamente, sigue sin entenderlo. Just keeps boasting about him and the police.' Sigue alardeando de él y de la policía.

‘Wow.' Josie looked to the boys on the modular sofa. 'Guau.' Josie miró a los niños en el sofá modular. ‘So he thinks it's smart to be a criminal?' —¿Así que cree que es inteligente ser un criminal?

The long-armed girl laughed, and Josie became part of a shape the five girls made together. La niña de brazos largos se rió y Josie se convirtió en parte de una forma que las cinco niñas hicieron juntas.

‘Then his brother over there gives it away. 'Entonces su hermano lo regala. Too much beer, that's all it was.' Demasiada cerveza, eso es todo.

‘Shush. 'Silenciar. He knows we're talking about him,' someone said. Sabe que estamos hablando de él', dijo alguien.

‘So much the better. 'Mucho mejor. The cops found him passed out on a bench and took him home. Los policías lo encontraron desmayado en un banco y lo llevaron a casa. And he's telling us like he was arrested or something.' Y nos lo dice como si lo hubieran arrestado o algo así.

‘No greeting, nothing.' 'Ningún saludo, nada.'

‘Hey, I didn't hear you give Josie a greeting just now, Missy. —Oye, no te oí saludar a Josie hace un momento, señorita. So you're just as bad as Danny.' Así que eres tan malo como Danny.

‘I did. 'Hice. I said hello to Josie.' Saludé a Josie.

‘Josie? '¿Josefina? Did you hear my sister greet you when you came in?' ¿Oíste saludarte a mi hermana cuando entraste?

Missy became visibly upset. Missy se molestó visiblemente. ‘I did say hello. 'Dije hola. It's just that Josie didn't hear me.' Es que Josie no me oyó.

‘Hey, Josie!' The boy called Danny – the one on the sofa with his leg extended over the cushions – was calling from the rear of the room. —¡Hola, Josie! El chico llamado Danny, el que estaba en el sofá con la pierna extendida sobre los cojines, estaba llamando desde el fondo de la habitación. ‘Hey, Josie, that your new AF? 'Oye, Josie, ¿ese es tu nuevo AF? Tell her to come over here.' Dile que venga aquí.

‘Go on, Klara,' Josie said. —Continúa, Klara —dijo Josie. ‘Go say hello to those boys.' Ve a saludar a esos chicos.

I didn't move at once, partly because I'd been surprised by Josie's voice. No me moví de inmediato, en parte porque me había sorprendido la voz de Josie. It was like the one she sometimes used when talking to Melania Housekeeper, but not like any voice she'd used before to me.

‘What's up with her?' Danny got up off the sofa. '¿Qué pasa con ella?' Danny se levantó del sofá. ‘Doesn't she take commands?' '¿No toma órdenes?'

Josie was giving me a stern look, so I began to make my way towards the boys on the sofa. Josie me estaba dando una mirada severa, así que comencé a caminar hacia los chicos en el sofá. But Danny, who was taller than anyone else in the room, came swiftly through the other guests and, before I was even halfway to the sofa, grasped me by both elbows, so I could no longer move freely. Pero Danny, que era más alto que nadie en la habitación, pasó rápidamente entre los otros invitados y, antes de que yo estuviera a medio camino del sofá, me agarró por los codos, de modo que ya no podía moverme libremente. He looked me up and down, then said: Me miró de arriba abajo y luego dijo:

‘So. 'Asi que. Settling in?' ¿Instalándose en?'

‘Yes. Thank you.'

One of the other boys from the sofa at the rear shouted: ‘Hey! Uno de los otros chicos del sofá en la parte trasera gritó: '¡Oye! She speaks! ¡Ella habla! Rejoice!' ¡Alegrarse!'

‘Shut up, Scrub,' Danny shouted back. —Cállate, Scrub —le gritó Danny—. Then he asked me: ‘So what do they call you again?' Entonces me preguntó: '¿Entonces cómo te llaman de nuevo?'

‘Her name's Klara,' Josie said from behind me. —Su nombre es Klara —dijo Josie detrás de mí. ‘Danny, let go of her. —Danny, suéltala. She doesn't like being held that way.' No le gusta que la sostengan de esa manera.

‘Hey, Danny,' Scrub shouted again. —Hola, Danny —gritó Scrub de nuevo—. ‘Throw her over here.' Tírala aquí.

‘You want to see her,' Danny said, ‘get up off that sofa and come over here.' 'Quieres verla', dijo Danny, 'levántate de ese sofá y ven aquí'.

‘Just throw her over. Sólo tírala. Let's test her coordination.' Probemos su coordinación.

‘She ain't your AF, Scrub.' Danny's hands were still tight around my elbows. Ella no es tu AF, Scrub. Las manos de Danny todavía estaban apretadas alrededor de mis codos. ‘You need to ask Josie about something like that.' Tienes que preguntarle a Josie sobre algo así.

‘Hey, Josie,' Scrub called. —Hola, Josie —llamó Scrub—. ‘It's okay, right? 'Está bien, ¿verdad? My B3, you can swing her right through the air, lands on her feet every time. Mi B3, puedes balancearlo por el aire, aterriza sobre sus pies cada vez. Come on, Danny. Vamos, Danny. Throw her over onto the sofa. Tírala sobre el sofá. She won't get damaged.' No se dañará.

‘So uncouth,' the long-armed girl said quietly, and several girls, Josie included, giggled. —Qué grosero —dijo la chica de brazos largos en voz baja, y varias chicas, incluida Josie, se rieron.

‘My B3,' Scrub continued, ‘she'll somersault and land clean on her feet. 'Mi B3', continuó Scrub, 'dará un salto mortal y aterrizará limpiamente sobre sus pies. Back straight, perfect. Espalda recta, perfecta. So let's see what this one can do.' Así que veamos qué puede hacer éste.

‘You're not a B3, right?' Danny asked. 'No eres un B3, ¿verdad?' preguntó Danny.

I didn't reply, but Josie behind me said: ‘No, but she's the best.' No respondí, pero Josie detrás de mí dijo: 'No, pero ella es la mejor'.

‘Yeah? '¿Sí? So can she do what Scrub says?' Entonces, ¿puede hacer lo que dice Scrub?

‘I have a B3 now,' a girl's voice said. 'Tengo un B3 ahora,' dijo la voz de una niña. ‘You'll see him next meeting.' Lo verás en la próxima reunión.

Then another voice asked: ‘Why didn't you get a B3, Josie?' Entonces otra voz preguntó: '¿Por qué no compraste un B3, Josie?'

‘Because…I liked this one.' Josie said this uncertainly, but then the strength returned to her voice. 'Porque... me gustó este.' Josie dijo esto con incertidumbre, pero luego la fuerza volvió a su voz. ‘There's nothing any B3 can do Klara can't.' No hay nada que un B3 pueda hacer y Klara no pueda.

There was movement behind me, and then the long-armed girl was standing beside Danny. Hubo un movimiento detrás de mí, y luego la chica de brazos largos estaba de pie junto a Danny. He seemed to feel both excitement and fear to be near her, and let go of my elbows. Parecía sentir emoción y miedo al estar cerca de ella, y soltó mis codos. But now the long-armed girl gripped my left wrist, though not nearly as roughly as Danny had been holding me. Pero ahora la chica de brazos largos agarró mi muñeca izquierda, aunque no tan fuerte como Danny me había estado sujetando.

‘Hello, Klara,' she said, and looked me over carefully again. 'Hola, Klara', dijo, y me miró detenidamente de nuevo. ‘Now. 'Ahora. Let's see. Vamos a ver. Klara, will you please sing for me the harmonic minor scale?' Klara, ¿podrías cantarme la escala menor armónica?

I wasn't sure how Josie wished me to respond so I waited for her to speak. No estaba seguro de cómo quería Josie que respondiera, así que esperé a que hablara. But she remained silent. Pero ella permaneció en silencio.

‘Oh? '¿Vaya? You don't sing?' ¿No cantas?

‘Come on,' the boy called Scrub called out. —Vamos —gritó el chico llamado Scrub. ‘Throw her over. If she can't coordinate, I'll just catch her.' Si ella no puede coordinar, simplemente la atraparé.

‘Not saying much.' The long-armed girl came closer and stared at my eyes. No digo mucho. La chica de brazos largos se acercó y me miró a los ojos. ‘Maybe she's low on solar.'

‘There's nothing wrong with her.' Josie said this so quietly, it was possible I was the only one to hear. No le pasa nada malo. Josie dijo esto en voz tan baja que era posible que yo fuera el único que lo escuchara.

‘Klara,' the long-armed girl said. —Klara —dijo la chica de brazos largos. ‘Give me a greeting.' Dame un saludo.

I remained silent, waiting for Josie to speak again. Permanecí en silencio, esperando que Josie hablara de nuevo.

‘No? '¿No? Nothing?' ¿Nada?'

‘Hey, Josie,' a voice said behind me. —Hola, Josie —dijo una voz detrás de mí—. ‘You could have got a B3, right? Podrías haber conseguido un B3, ¿verdad? So why didn't you?' Entonces, ¿por qué no lo hiciste?

Josie laughed and said: ‘Now I'm starting to think I should have.' Josie se rió y dijo: 'Ahora estoy empezando a pensar que debería haberlo hecho'.

This brought other laughs, then a new voice said: ‘B3s are so amazing.' Esto provocó otras risas, luego una nueva voz dijo: 'Los B3 son increíbles'.

‘Come on, Klara,' the long-armed girl said. —Vamos, Klara —dijo la chica de brazos largos—. ‘A little greeting at least.' Al menos un pequeño saludo.

I'd by now fixed a pleasant expression on my face and was gazing past her, much as Manager had trained us to do in the store in such situations. Ya había fijado una expresión agradable en mi rostro y miraba más allá de ella, tal como el Gerente nos había enseñado a hacer en la tienda en tales situaciones.

‘An AF who refuses to greet. 'Un AF que se niega a saludar. Josie, will you tell Klara to say something to us?' Josie, ¿le dirás a Klara que nos diga algo?

‘Throw her over here. Tírala aquí. That'll bring her to life.' Eso la traerá a la vida.

‘Klara's got a great memory,' Josie said behind me. "Klara tiene una gran memoria", dijo Josie detrás de mí. ‘As good as any AF anywhere.' 'Tan bueno como cualquier AF en cualquier lugar.'

‘Oh really?' said the long-armed girl. '¿Ah, de verdad?' dijo la chica de brazos largos.

‘And not just her memory. Y no sólo su memoria. She notices things no one else does and stores them away.' Se da cuenta de las cosas que nadie más hace y las guarda.

‘Okay.' The long-armed girl kept holding my wrist. 'De acuerdo.' La chica de brazos largos siguió sosteniendo mi muñeca. ‘Okay, Klara. 'Está bien, Klara. Here's what to do. Esto es lo que debe hacer. Without turning to look. Sin volverse a mirar. Tell me what my sister's wearing.' Dime qué lleva puesto mi hermana.

I continued to stare beyond the long-armed girl at the bricks on the wall. Continué mirando más allá de la chica de brazos largos hacia los ladrillos de la pared.

‘Seems to have frozen. Parece que se ha congelado. But she's cute, I'll give you that.' Pero ella es linda, te lo concedo.'

‘Ask her again,' Josie said. —Pregúntaselo de nuevo —dijo Josie. ‘Go on, Marsha. 'Adelante, Marsha. Ask again.' Pregunta de nuevo.'

‘Okay. 'De acuerdo. Now, Klara, I know you can do it. Ahora, Klara, sé que puedes hacerlo. Tell me what Missy's wearing.' Dime qué lleva puesto Missy.

‘I'm sorry,' I said, still looking past her. —Lo siento —dije, sin dejar de mirar más allá de ella.

‘You're sorry?' Then the long-armed girl said to the room, ‘What's that mean?' and people laughed. '¿Tu lo lamentas?' Entonces la chica de brazos largos dijo a la habitación: '¿Qué significa eso?' y la gente se reía. Then she glared at me and asked: ‘What do you mean, Klara? Luego me miró y preguntó: '¿Qué quieres decir, Klara? What do you mean, you're sorry?' ¿Qué quieres decir con que lo sientes?

‘I'm sorry I'm unable to help.' Siento no poder ayudar.

‘She's not going to help.' The long-armed girl's look softened and at last she released my wrist. Ella no va a ayudar. La mirada de la chica de brazos largos se suavizó y por fin me soltó la muñeca. ‘Okay, Klara. 'Está bien, Klara. You can turn and look. Puedes girar y mirar. Take a look at what Missy's wearing.' Echa un vistazo a lo que lleva puesto Missy.

Though it might look impolite, I didn't turn. Aunque pueda parecer descortés, no me giré. Because if I did so, I'd not only see Missy – I knew of course what she was wearing down to her purple wristband and tiny bear pendant – but also Josie, and then we would have to exchange looks with each other. Porque si lo hacía, no solo vería a Missy (sabía, por supuesto, lo que llevaba puesto hasta la muñequera morada y el diminuto colgante de oso), sino también a Josie, y luego tendríamos que intercambiar miradas.

‘I give up,' the long-armed girl said. —Me rindo —dijo la chica de brazos largos.

‘Okay,' Danny said. -Está bien -dijo Danny-. ‘Then we'll do Scrub's test. Entonces haremos la prueba de Scrub. Just to please him. Solo para complacerlo. Phil, come here and help me swing her. Phil, ven aquí y ayúdame a balancearla. Scrub, stay where you are, get ready to catch. Frote, quédese donde está, prepárese para atrapar. This is okay with you, Josie?' ¿Te parece bien, Josie?

Behind me, Josie remained silent, but a girl's voice said: ‘Throwing AFs across the room. Detrás de mí, Josie permaneció en silencio, pero la voz de una niña dijo: 'Lanzar AF por la habitación. That's evil.' Eso es malvado.

‘What's evil about it? '¿Qué tiene de malo? They're designed to deal with it.' Están diseñados para lidiar con eso.

‘That's not the point,' the girl's voice said. —Ese no es el punto —dijo la voz de la chica—. ‘It's just nasty.' Es simplemente desagradable.

‘You're being soft,' Danny said. —Estás siendo suave —dijo Danny. ‘Phil, take her arms. Phil, cógela de los brazos. I'll get the legs.' Cogeré las piernas.

‘What's that you have there in your pocket?' It was Rick who'd spoken and the room went silent. '¿Qué es eso que tienes ahí en tu bolsillo?' Fue Rick quien habló y la habitación quedó en silencio.

‘What d'you say, friend?' '¿Qué dices, amigo?'

Rick moved through the guests, stopping a little to my right. Rick se movió entre los invitados, deteniéndose un poco a mi derecha. He showed no fear as he pointed at the breast pocket of Danny's shirt. No mostró miedo mientras señalaba el bolsillo superior de la camisa de Danny. I'd noticed the object earlier – a soft toy dog small enough for the pocket. Había notado el objeto antes: un perro de peluche lo suficientemente pequeño para el bolsillo. I'd seen children of seven and eight carrying such toys in their pockets when they'd come into the store. Había visto a niños de siete y ocho años con esos juguetes en los bolsillos cuando entraban en la tienda.

As everyone shifted positions to see what Rick was pointing at, Danny raised both hands to cover his pocket. Mientras todos cambiaban de posición para ver lo que señalaba Rick, Danny levantó ambas manos para cubrirse el bolsillo.

‘A pet object, I'd say,' Rick said. —Un objeto favorito, diría yo —dijo Rick—.

‘It's not a pet object,' Danny said. "No es un objeto de mascota", dijo Danny.

‘I'd say it's your pet object. Diría que es tu objeto favorito. To help you feel calmer at gatherings like this one.' Para ayudarte a sentirte más tranquilo en reuniones como esta.

‘What's this bullshit? '¿Qué es esta mierda? Who asked you anything?' ¿Quién te preguntó nada?

‘If it's really nothing so special, perhaps you wouldn't mind showing it to me.' Rick held out his hand. 'Si realmente no es nada tan especial, tal vez no te importaría enseñármelo.' Rick le tendió la mano. ‘Don't worry. 'No te preocupes. I'll take good care of it.' Lo cuidaré bien.

‘Whether it's anything special or not, it's none of your business.' Ya sea algo especial o no, no es asunto tuyo.

‘Do please let me borrow it. Por favor, déjamelo prestado. Just for a minute.' Solo por un minuto.'

‘It's nothing to me, but I wouldn't hand it over to you.' No es nada para mí, pero no te lo daría.

‘No? '¿No? Not even a little peek?' ¿Ni siquiera un pequeño vistazo?

‘I'd never lend you anything. Yo nunca te prestaría nada. Why would I? ¿Por qué habría? You shouldn't even be here.' Ni siquiera deberías estar aquí.

Rick was still holding out his hand, and the room remained silent. Rick todavía sostenía su mano, y la habitación permanecía en silencio.

‘It couldn't be you're perhaps a little soft yourself, Danny?' Rick said. —¿No puede ser que tú también seas un poco blando, Danny? dijo Rick. ‘At least, when it comes to cute little things for the pocket.' 'Al menos, cuando se trata de lindas cositas para el bolsillo.'

‘That's enough! '¡Eso es suficiente! You leave Danny be!' ¡Deja en paz a Danny!

The voice belonged to an adult, and the young people around me shrank back as the woman came striding into the room. La voz pertenecía a un adulto, y los jóvenes a mi alrededor se encogieron cuando la mujer entró en la habitación. ‘And Danny's right,' she said. —Y Danny tiene razón —dijo—. ‘You shouldn't be here at all.' No deberías estar aquí en absoluto.

Then the Mother came hurrying in after her, and I saw other adults looking through the doorway into the Open Plan. Entonces la Madre entró corriendo detrás de ella y vi a otros adultos mirando a través de la puerta hacia el Open Plan.

‘Come on, Sara,' the Mother was saying. —Vamos, Sara —decía la Madre—. ‘We don't interfere, remember?' No interferimos, ¿recuerdas?

The Mother put an arm around the Sara woman, who continued to glare at Rick. La Madre rodeó con un brazo a la mujer Sara, que seguía mirando a Rick.

‘Come on, Sara. 'Vamos, Sara. Play by the rules. Juega según las reglas. It's for the kids to sort out.' Es para que los niños lo resuelvan.

Sara continued to look angry, but allowed herself to be led away out of the room and into the murmur of adult voices in the hall. Sara siguió pareciendo enojada, pero permitió que la sacaran de la habitación y la llevaran al murmullo de voces adultas en el pasillo. One of the voices said: ‘It's the only way they'll learn,' and then the adult voices receded, and there was silence in the Open Plan. Una de las voces dijo: 'Es la única manera de que aprendan', y luego las voces adultas se alejaron, y se hizo el silencio en el Open Plan.

Danny was perhaps even more embarrassed about his adult's interference than he'd been about the small toy. Danny estaba tal vez aún más avergonzado por la interferencia de su adulto que por el pequeño juguete. He continued to cover his breast pocket with both hands as he returned to the sofa, his now slightly hunched back turned to the room. Continuó cubriendo el bolsillo del pecho con ambas manos mientras regresaba al sofá, su espalda ahora ligeramente encorvada se volvió hacia la habitación.

‘Okay,' the long-armed girl said brightly. —Está bien —dijo alegremente la chica de brazos largos—. ‘How about we go outside for a while? '¿Qué tal si salimos un rato? It's turned nice out there. Se ha vuelto agradable ahí fuera. Look!' ¡Mirar!'

A chorus of voices shouted approval, and I heard Josie's among them saying, ‘Great idea. Un coro de voces gritó aprobación, y escuché a Josie entre ellos decir: 'Gran idea. Let's do it!' ¡Vamos a hacerlo!'

The children filed out, led by Josie and the long-armed girl. Los niños salieron en fila, encabezados por Josie y la niña de brazos largos. Danny and Scrub left with them, and then there was only Rick and myself in the Open Plan. Danny y Scrub se fueron con ellos, y luego solo quedamos Rick y yo en el Open Plan.

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